War crimes defendant released from custody

15th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 October 2004, MUNICH - A man accused of ordering and taking part in three World War Two massacres was Friday released from custody by a court in Munich as the trial continued.

15 October 2004

MUNICH - A man accused of ordering and taking part in three World War Two massacres was Friday released from custody by a court in Munich as the trial continued.

The court agreed to a defence application for Slovak-born defendant Ladislav Niznansky, 86, to be released for the rest of the trial.

Niznansky, a naturalised German citizen since 1966, is accused of taking part in three massacres of 164 Slovak men, women and children in January and February 1945. He has been in custody since his arrest in Munich in January.

Lifting his remand, the court said Niznansky was no longer strongly suspected of being guilty as charged.

It follows contradictory testimony from the prosecution's key witness, Jan Repasky, 79, who at one stage said he could not remember whether Niznansky took part in the massacres but then changed his evidence under questioning.

Niznansky has confirmed to the court that he was a captain in the Slovak section of the Nazi-led anti-partisan unit Edelweiss but denied taking part in the massacres at Ostry Grun and Klak in January 1945.

A Slovak court sentenced him in absentia to death in 1962 for treason and murder. At the end of the war, Niznansky moved to Germany, where he was in the research section at Radio Free Europe.

Repasky, who has admitted his own part in the massacres, had told Munich prosecutors during their investigations he saw how Niznansky personally shot 20 of the victims and had given the order that no-one should come out alive.

But earlier this week, a frail Repasky, who appeared in the witness box in a wheelchair, appeared confused about events, saying at first Niznansky was not involved before telling the court he had joined in the killings.

DPA

Subject: German news

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